The past two months have been filled with a whirlwind of upheaval, and I find myself smack-dab in the middle of someone else's life.
I wake up at a different time, in different pajamas. I put on different clothes and better shoes. I blow-dry my hair. I take a different train to a different building, get out of the elevator on a different floor and sit at a different desk.
And by the end of the day, I just can't think about one more thing. I know that I have to get up early tomorrow, and I go to bed before Stephen Colbert even takes the stage. I would not recognize myself if I saw me on the street.
Sometimes writing helps you sort things out, but sometimes you have to sort things out before you can start writing, and that is where I have been.
At the beginning of August I got a call from Fox News saying that finally, three months after my first interview, they had a job for me. They liked me, they had said. And so I waited through a long, slow summer during which the other thing I wanted that much slipped from my grasp. By August, I was beginning to lose hope.
But August drew to a close, I had been offered an official job and I accepted. I went from having one foot on the slide to having both... waiting to shove off.
I would be a News Editor at FOXNews.com. Whatever that meant. I had talked about the job, the pace, the world, when I had interviewed, but enough time had passed that I really didn't know entirely what I was getting myself into.
My first week went by in a blur of new software, AP Style, trying to learn everyone's names and figuring out where to sit each day - I didn't have a desk yet. I was squatting wherever there was space. I learned where the kitchen was (day 3) and by Friday had figured out that there was an exit from the subway directly into our building. Go figure.
That week I subsisted on coffee, sandwiches from Pret-a-Manger (which I heard someone pronounce like the manger where you might find the baby Jesus and it took all my strength not to correct her... she had earlier been talking about her masters degree. This makes me suspicious) and Chinese food dinners. I even went in at 7:30 on Saturday morning to fill in for someone.
I learned that Wonton Soup is my comfort food. Especially when you crush up those little Chinese noodle crackers and add them to the broth. Just thinking about it makes me want some.
But week 2 was a bit better. I moved back to eating salads for lunch so my digestive system calmed down and I no longer spent the last half of the day with a nasty pit of lava where my stomach had once been. I even cooked dinner twice! I still had more than my share of the world's Chinese food, and tried to branch out, but all I really wanted was the Wonton Soup.
At some point, I started writing. And reporting. Anything they could think of. Today, I gave Americans the U.S. Citizenship test that immigrants have to take to become naturalized. They did way better than we thought they would. What was unexpected - how absolutely impossible it was to find Americans in Times Square on a Tuesday at noon. Reliable bets? Smokers who were loitering in one place and senior citizens. Jackpot.
A far cry from the world of workgroup color printers and uninterrupted power supplies. (Yes, I have written about both.)
And here's the thing. I'm ridiculously happy.
I have bouts of fear - I don't recognize myself in the proverbial mirror - when I get a bit melodramatic about things I can't control. But for the most part, I find myself springing out of bed at 7:05 at the latest. I wear smart black boots. I like when I catch my reflection in the mirror and I'm wearing eyeliner and a cute shirt. I've lost more weight. I make time for the gym.
I even read on the Subway today, something I'd been too listless to do for months; I'm not sure why.
I've been jump started like an old car. My brain is in over-drive. It's fantastic.
So I've started moving things in, like you do with a new boyfriend's apartment.
Last Friday I finally got my own desk. It's not in the middle of the action, but it's mine. If someone else sits there, I can tell them to move. On Friday, I left my water bottle on the desk. It was still there on Monday, so on Monday, I put some napkins in the drawer after lunch.
Today, I left a sweater draped over the chair, one more small step towards making this foreigner's life my own.